Snobbish Staff Boost Sales in Luxury Stores

luxury stores

A new research study indicates that consumers are more likely to spend money in luxury or high-end stores if they are treated condescendingly by snooty or arrogant salespeople. The study from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business indicates that if the staff in luxury stores act either snobbish or rude to customers, this behavior might actually boost sales. Consumers appeared more willing to purchase items from a brand when salespeople treated them poorly.

The study’s lead author, Professor Darren Dahl reported that consumers would respond in the opposite manner than one might think. When rebuffed at high-end luxury stores those shoppers were more likely to not only purchase items but would also be willing to pay a higher price for them. The study was conducted on people after they had interactions with representatives of the company. These shoppers were asked to rate their feelings toward the product and the treatment they received by staff. When they received poor treatment it appeared that they had an increased desire to own the product or brand. This indicates that having snobbish staff in a high-end store may actually boost the sales of luxury brands.

This observation only was observed if the salesperson truly seemed to be an actual representative of the luxury brand. If the salesperson did not appear to fit the ideal of the brand, the consumer was disengaged and turned off. Additionally, while this method appears to be successful for higher end and luxury stores and brands, this did not work for other retail or mass marketed brands. In other words, you have to place the correct type of arrogant worker in the right type of store in order for the effect to be successful.

The premise behind this effect appears to be the desire to belong. When treated rudely, the shopper subconsciously wishes to belong. This desire to belong promotes a greater desire to own or purchase that particular brand or item. It is a denial and counter move of someone who is being treated poorly as if they do not belong to a particular consumer group, one who should not be allowed to join the ranks of those that already own that item. The reaction of someone who is told that they do not belong to some exclusive group or club is to prove the other wrong. Therefore, purchasing the item or brand about which the salesperson is being condescending appears to be the immediate way in which to negate that feeling of inadequacy or of not belonging. In fact, many times the consumer will not only purchase the item but go overboard and purchase multiple numbers of that particular item. Raymond Shoolman, a retail analyst, indicates that this type of buying, or overbuying, behavior is common.

However, the study also indicates that approximately two weeks after the rude encounter, the effect has diminished and the shoppers no longer had such improved or lofty impressions of the brand. In fact, the wish to purchase the product was significantly reduced after the interim period of time. So, while the behavior of a snobbish staff person might actually boost sales in the luxury stores, it does not seem to impact the overall impression of the item after the emotional response fades.

By Dee Mueller
Follow Dee on Twitter @TuesdayDG

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